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Can Apple Rescue the Vision Pro?

I don’t mind the headset itself, although, as many reviewers have pointed out, it’s too heavy to be worn comfortably for long stretches. (My longest Vision Pro session was three hours, and I felt slightly hung over afterward.) But there are plenty of other annoying hardware issues. Carrying around an external battery pack is a bummer, it doesn’t work well in dark or dimly lit rooms, and there’s no good way to input text — so if you want to use the Vision Pro for any kind of text-based work, you have to use a Bluetooth keyboard.

The Vision Pro also still lacks some basic features. You can’t make or receive phone calls with it, the way iPhone users can with the Mac and the iPad. The Vision Pro is compatible only with Apple’s Magic Trackpad, not with Bluetooth mice. And the guest mode — the way you show the Vision Pro to your friends, when they ask to try it for themselves — is a mess. (This week, Apple announced that the next version of the Vision Pro’s operating system, which will arrive this year, will have improved mouse support and a better guest user experience.)

But the biggest disappointment with the Vision Pro is how few good apps there are. Several months after its debut, there’s still no native YouTube or Netflix app. There’s no Spotify, no Instagram, no DoorDash. (You can still use some of these services in a web browser, or use unofficial third-party apps, but it’s a worse experience.)

Some of these apps are missing because of corporate infighting. (Google and Meta, for example, have their own virtual reality ambitions and presumably don’t want to give Apple’s product a boost by making apps for it.) But others amount to a lack of confidence. Developers don’t want to make apps for platforms that nobody uses, and their reluctance so far — only about 2,000 apps have been developed for the Vision Pro, Apple said on Monday — says something about the device’s tepid reception.

Apple has also been slow to update its own offerings for the Vision Pro, like a series of “immersive videos,” filmed on special 3-D cameras and released through Apple TV. These videos — which included a prehistoric nature film and a “rehearsal room” video of Alicia Keys and her band as they perform a song — were designed to show off the Vision Pro’s high-definition graphics and its “spatial audio” feature, and they are among the best things you can do with a Vision Pro.

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